New SIMPLEx Mission to Send SmallSats on Longest Deep Space Journey to Date

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — A small satellite mission that will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids has received NASA approval to proceed to the next phase of its development.

On Sept. 3, the dual-spacecraft Janus project successfully passed the important Key Decision Point-C milestone. It’s the first concept study from the current round of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx-2) program to do so. 

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Janus Small Satellite Mission To Rendezvous With Binary Asteroids

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

The twin-spacecraft Janus project will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” binary asteroids.

DENVER, Sept. 10, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) — The University of Colorado Boulder and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will soon lead a new space mission to capture the first-ever closeup look at a mysterious class of solar system objects: binary asteroids.

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Launch of UAE Hope Mission to Mars Scheduled for Monday From Japan

The Emirates Mars Mission Hope Spacecraft prior to shipment to Dubai and the Tanegashima Launch site, with fully deployed solar panels and instruments visible (facing the floor) measuring nearly 5 meters across. (Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison)

The launch of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission to Mars aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket has been reset from Monday morning. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:58:14 a.m. JST (9:58:14 p.m. GMT/5:58:14 p.m. EDT) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Emirates Mars Mission was developed by the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in collaboration with a number of US research institutions, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The orbiter will use three instruments to study the martian atmosphere and weather.

Hope’s original launch date of July 15 was scrubbed due to weather.

Emirates Mars Mission Launching in Partnership with LASP at CU Boulder

The Emirates Mars Mission Hope Spacecraft prior to shipment to Dubai and the Tanegashima Launch site, with fully deployed solar panels and instruments visible (facing the floor) measuring nearly 5 meters across. (Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison)

BOULDER, Colo. (LASP PR) — The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, is scheduled to launch this month on Mitsubishi H-IIA launch platform from Tanegashima, Japan and arrive at Mars in February 2021, coinciding with The Emirates’ 50th anniversary as a nation. 

The mission is being carried out by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE in collaboration with a number of US research institutions, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Meet 8 Teams Sending Payloads to the Moon on Masten’s Lander

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Imagine having the opportunity to send your payload to the lunar surface. Not next decade, but in 2022!

Well, that’s the incredible opportunity that the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project — and Masten Space Systems — has presented for 8 visionary teams and their instruments. Each and every one is cool in their own way and we couldn’t be prouder to be the lunar lander company that will set them down safely on the surface of the Moon. 

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Solving the Space Junk Problem

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Internationally agreed upon fees to put satellites in orbit could boost value of the space industry.

BOULDER, Colo. (CIRES PR) — Space is getting crowded. Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk. The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it’s an international agreement to charge operators “orbital-use fees” for every satellite put into orbit. 

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Front Range Biosciences Launches Hemp and Coffee Tissue Culture Samples to Space

LAFAYETTE, Colo., March 6, 2020 (Front Range Biosciences PR) — Front Range Biosciences® (FRB), an agricultural technology company focused on breeding and nursery production of new plant varieties and seeds for the hemp and coffee industries, today announced that its mission to transport plant cultures to space to examine the effects of zero gravity on plant gene expression is scheduled to launch this evening at the Kennedy Space Center.

In partnership with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado Boulder, FRB’s coffee and hemp cell cultures will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) on the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight slated to depart today at 4:50 a.m. UTC, weather permitting.

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Janus Satellite to Explore Binary Asteroid

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon Heavy (secondary payload on Psyche mission)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: July 2022
NASA Program: Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx)

Description

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids and build an accurate model of two binary asteroid bodies. A binary asteroid is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common center of mass.

The principal investigator is Daniel Scheeres at the University of Colorado. Lockheed Martin will provide project management.

SIMPLEx

Using small spacecraft – less than 400 pounds, or 180 kilograms, in mass – SIMPLEx selections will conduct stand-alone planetary science missions. Each will share their ride to space with either another NASA mission or a commercial launch opportunity.

Janus will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Front Range Biosciences to Send Hemp, Coffee Tissue Culture Samples to Space to Study Effects of Microgravity

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (FRB PR) — Front Range Biosciences®  (“FRB”), an agricultural technology company focused on breeding and nursery production of new plant varieties and seeds for the hemp and coffee industries, has announced their partnership with SpaceCells USA  Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder to send hemp and coffee tissue culture to space. The mission will transport plant cultures to space to examine zero gravity’s effects on the plants’ metabolic pathways.

The experiment, being targeted for transportation to the space station aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020, will look at how plant cells undergo gene expression changes or genetic mutations while in space.

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NGA Announces 10 Winners in MagQuest Phase 1; Launches $1

SPRINGFIELD, Virginia (NGA PR) — Today, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced 10 winners in the first phase of MagQuest, a $1.2 million global open innovation challenge to advance how we measure Earth’s magnetic field. The next phase of the challenge is now accepting detailed designs for geomagnetic data collection methodologies for the World Magnetic Model. Phase 2 is open to solvers from Phase 1, as well as new solvers who did not participate in the first phase of the challenge, and will award $1 million in cash prizes.

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Asteroid Mission Selected for Next Phase of NASA Small Spacecraft Competition

Artist’s conception of the Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER  (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design dual small deep space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids in a mission called Janus, led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

One of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists, Janus is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to image the system using both visible and infrared cameras. These small satellites will launch in 2022 to reach the asteroid system in 2026.

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NSRC Day 3 Summary

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)
Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.
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DANDE Satellite Off to a Good Start

Former CU-Boulder students Mark Sakaguchi and Bruce Davis test the DANDE satellite. (Credit: CU-Denver)
Former CU-Boulder students Mark Sakaguchi and Bruce Davis test the DANDE satellite. (Credit: CU-Denver)

BOULDER, Colo. (CU-Boulder PR) – A small satellite designed and built by a team of University of Colorado Boulder students to better understand how atmospheric drag can affect satellite orbits was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday morning.

The satellite, known as the Drag and Atmospheric Neutral Density Explorer satellite, or DANDE, will investigate how a layer of Earth’s atmosphere known as the thermosphere varies in density at altitudes from about 200 to 300 miles above Earth. The commercial Falcon-9 SpaceX rocket lifted off the launch pad at about 10 a.m. MDT carrying DANDE, a small beach ball-sized satellite developed over a period of about six years by roughly 150 students, primarily undergraduates, as part of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, or COSGS.

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DANDE Satellite Set for Launch on Falcon 9

Former CU-Boulder students Mark Sakaguchi and Bruce Davis test the DANDE satellite. (Credit: CU-Denver)
Former CU-Boulder students Mark Sakaguchi and Bruce Davis test the DANDE satellite. (Credit: CU-Denver)

BOULDER, Colo. (CU-Boulder PR) — A small beach ball-sized satellite designed and built by a team of University of Colorado Boulder students to better understand how atmospheric drag can affect satellite orbits is now slated for launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 29.

The satellite, known as the Drag and Atmospheric Neutral Density Explorer satellite, or DANDE, is designed to investigate how a layer of Earth’s atmosphere known as the thermosphere varies in density at altitudes from about 200 to 300 miles above Earth. There are thousands of satellites orbiting Earth at those altitudes, most of which eventually degrade, lose altitude and burn up in the atmosphere.

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